About Me

I'm Phil! American living in Japan. Teacher. Ex-independent professional wrestler. Student of Japanese. Traveler. Article writer for Mythic Scribes. Also written four manga, novels, and various short stories and poems. For my fantasy-related blog, check out http://www.philipoverbyfantasy.blogspot.jp/.


Drill Bits: random thoughts, bloggy stuff
Japan Hammer: topics about Japan
Story Time: stories I felt like posting

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drill Bits: Looking Towards 2012

So, 2011...Hmm...

I got married. Which has been awesome.

There was a massive earthquake in an area I used to live in. That was bad.

Radiation. Bad.

Ongoing trouble with back pain. Bad.

What else happened?

Worked on manga. Good.

Worked on stories. Good.

Uh...what else?

Went to a lot of awesome wrestling shows. Great!

Lost touch with a lot of friends. Bad.

Got back in touch with lost friends. Good.

Taught some English. Uh...good?

Learned some Japanese. Good.

So what am I doing in 2012? I don't know. Here's some ideas.

1. Work on more manga
2. See more wrestling shows
3. Train to be a knight (yes, really)
4. Teach more English
5. Be married and be nicer!
6. Finally find out the source of this mystery back pain

That's about it.

2011. Some great things. Some good things. Some bad things.

2012. Let's do it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Story Time: World Wide Wandering Wendigo Wrestler

(for the terribleminds.com challenge)

World Wide Wandering Wendigo Wrestler

by Philip Overby

Wally Wreckluse pulled his tights over his mangled jock from the previous night's wendigo wrangling. Not that any women in Mudmap had shown interest in Wally's oiled up physique and orange, ogre-esque appearance. They liked lumberjacks and bikers. Hunters and hockey players. Men's men.

This night pitted Wally against a wily wendigo called Goatdrinker. How he drank goats, Wally didn't know. Battle in a steel cage tonight. His home. No trees to hide behind. No mountains. Just Wally, hot oil, and steel

The announcer's voice crackled from a busted microphone. "On his way to the ring. From Parts Unknown. Weighing in at 295 pounds. The Jacked-Up Jaguar. The Blond Butcher of Bhutan..."

"Bhutan? I'm from Milwaukee." Wally danced in place like he was about to piss himself or kick someone's ass.

"...the Warlock Womb-thief of Wisconsin, Wally Wreckluse!" The announcer shouted. The drunk people in the crowd clapped.

The butt-rock music blared and Wally burst through the curtain, screaming "Come on!" and "Alright!" He clapped hands with a toothless woman in the front row, a man with a massive beard, and a kid eating a powdered donut. Wally got some jelly on his hand. He tried to play it off, wiping the strawberry smear across his chest like he just killed a buck.

He rattled the cage, yodeling to get the crowd behind him. They wanted blood though.

"Get in the zone, bro. Make him tap and get some gym time in before 10."

No music accompanied the wendigo. Handlers led the beast to the ring, his eyes crazed. His chains jangled as they took the blood-lusting beast inside.

"Here's Goatdrinker!" The announcer scaled up and out of the cage before the wendigo was unchained. Wally tried to smile, but in truth he shat his black trunks every time one of the beasts stood across from him. Winning was his only option. How else would he make a living if he couldn't twist abominable snow men with abdominal stretches. If he couldn't give the big boot to Bigfoot. Or, yes, suplex a Sasquatch. His livelihood relied on humiliating mythical forest monsters. If he couldn't do that, he just didn't know what he'd do.

The chains came off and the trainers scurried away. The cage door slammed behind Goatdrinker. A pinkish foam rolled from his mouth. His black within black eyes cold and dark.

The bell rang. Some woman hollered "Tear his fuckin' head off, boy!" Wally assumed she addressed him.

Adjusting his junk, Wally circled the beast, eyes locked on its leg. Always the weakness. Wendigo legs snapped like twigs. But those snapping jaws. Those ripping claws. Meat falls right off the bone like BBQ ribs if that wendigo gets its hold. The luchadore El Blowfish became quivering hamburger after a match with a wendigo named Warthog Assassin in Pittsburgh.

Wally shot in, but Goatdrinker was too spry and darted out of the way. No reaction. Just watching. A smart one. Wally looked for another opening, but he side-stepped.

He'd try a different approach. Brute strength.

"Let's go!" Wally rallied the comatose crowd and barreled into Goatdrinker with a dreaded double-axe handle to the jaw. The wendigo staggered back into the bars of the cage. Spat blood. Roared, much to the delight of the crowd and went for a cross-body block onto Wally. He ducked and the wendigo hurtled over him, cracking his face on the other side of the cage.

Wally then locked in a sleeper hold, clasping his arms together around Goatdrinker's throat. The beast sputtered, falling to one knee. The crowd chanted. "Wally! Wally!"

Then something curious happened. The wendigo talked. "Come on, brother. Let me win. My woman's here."


"In the front row. Brunette in the red sweater." Goatdrinker gasped for air. "I won't hurt you much. I'll just spread that jelly around. It'll look like I just mauled the shit out of you."

"Uh, I won't get paid." Wally whispered to the fading wendigo. "This is my life, man."

"I'll make it worth it." Goatdrinker said. "Rematch of the century. In Toronto. I've got connections. Believe me. I can hook this up."

"I don't know, dude. If this gets out--" The wendigo's arms went rubbery. The crowd whipped into a frenzy now, even the hookers and junkies who outside came in to join in the fun.

"Seriously. Do me a solid." The wendigo mustered. "Please."

Wally, his credibility on the line, realized he had to do something.

He squeezed tighter. Goatdrinker tapped.

Victory. He'd won the day. There would be no rematch.

Wally hopped out of the cage to approach the sexy woman in the red sweater. She looked Wally up and down as he flexed his pectoral muscles, putting her in a beefcake-induced trance.

Wally, that glistening stud, extended his hand to the woman. "Hi. Name's Wally. Couldn't help noticing you as I totally choked that guy. That's how hot you are."

The girl suddenly burst into tears. "I'm pregnant you jerk!" She slapped Wally across the face.

The crowd "oohed" as she stormed out of the building. When Wally looked back into the cage, Goatdrinker kicking invisible sand, he knew what he had to do. He couldn't ruin this. Take money away from a struggling forest creature and his family.

"I'm not finished with you. I want more! Me and you. Next week. For the Mudmap Championship."

The crowd exploded as Goatdrinker jumped out of the cage and mauled the shit out of Wally. Wally held his chest, the jelly smeared into his well-sprayed skin.

"Call an ambulance!" Wally writhed on the floor. As Goatdrinker walked away, Wally thought he saw him wink.

Wally screamed. "Get ready for vengeance, bro!"

People took pictures, covered their mouths in shock. As Wally screamed, "God, so much blood!" There was more money to be made. For everyone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

National Novel Writing Month: Confessions of a Jobber

It's still several months away, but I've been discussing National Novel Writing Month on the Mythic Scribes forum and it's already got me excited. The last three years I did fantasy stories:

2008: Wall of Dead Unicorns
2009: Kingdom of Buzzards
2010: Drink the Wyvern

All three years I hit the 50,000 word (175 pages?) mark. However, none of these novels are really finished. Because they need heavy, heavy editing.

But that's besides the point. NaNoWriMo is more about challenging myself and hitting a goal than getting something ready to be published. It's fun and uplifting and depressing and soul-destroying all at the same time.

This year I've decided to take a different approach. No fantasy. I'm going to try to write a wrestling story. Yes, that's right. Wrestling.

Tentatively titled, "Confessions of a Jobber," it will be a semi-autobiographical adventure into the weird, wacky world of professional wrestling. It follows an unnamed wrestler (don't know his name yet) that travels all over the world for over 25 years, but never wins a single, solitary match. His goal? To finally just win one match.

Some of the things detailed in this story will take pages from my ACTUAL experiences on the independent scene and years of reading about and watching wrestling.

Things to expect;

1. Being passed over for championships
2. Being a hated heel and getting turned babyface for being too good at it
3. Doing matches he didn't want to do
4. Communication/Miscommunication in the ring
5. Backstage politics
6. Fan clashes
7. Ring rats
8. Dirt sheet writers
9. Rookies/backyarders
10. Kayfabe
11. Masked gimmicks
12. Tag team wrestling
13. Crappy shows
14. Reality vs. wrestling
15. Wrestling a bear

These are some things that will be covered in the book. And I have plenty of source material. This story is entirely FICTIONAL and will only be loosely based on things I've seen and experienced as a pro wrestler.

Coming in November! NaNoWrimo 2011!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Drill Bits: Drinking Elf Blood (Or Stuff I Like)

I thought the title of this blog would get some attention. I don't really like drinking elf blood. I prefer ghost blood. It's tasteless and low-calorie.

Anyway, here is a list of things with my stamp of approval:

1. Kizuna: Fiction for Japan.

An awesome charity book with over 70 authors in it from all over the world. Personally, my interest is in the Japanese writers in this book. You don't know how many times I've wandered around book stores in Japan and dreamed that I could read Japanese more. This anthology gives me the chance. Lots of great authors in this, some known, some unknown, but all working for the common good of raising some money for those affected by the Tohoku disaster.

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Kizuna-Fiction-charity-anthology-ebook/dp/B005GFID4O

Even if you don't have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for different devices (Kindle for PC specifically and I think they have an app for Android and Blackberry or some other devices I'm not familiar with.)

2. terribleminds: Blog by Chuck Wendig (www.terribleminds.com)

For writing advice, Wendig does a great job of making it entertaining and inspiring at the same time. I recently bought his book Confessions of a Penmonkey which are collected essays from the site. Really funny (and often weird) stuff. Highly recommended. And he would probably approve me drinking elf blood.

3. Bizarro Central: Revamp (www.bizarrocentral.com)

I really like the new re-vamped Bizarro Central. Always cool articles, pictures, or news over there if you're into weird stuff. I prefer this version of the website because it seems more focused in the shared-blog format. Kudos to whoever spear-headed this one!

4. Mythic Scribes (www.mythicscribes.com)

As fantasy forums go, this is a good one. And not just faeries and dragons and all that crap most people think I'm a dork for liking. But other "edgier" stuff too. Really good community that don't troll each other.

5. Game of Thrones TV Show

I recently finished the first season of the TV series Game of Thrones based on George R.R. Martin's book series. I have to say, I'm very impressed. Great actors all around and Peter Dinklage is definitely a highlight as Tyrion. Love me some Tyrion. Can't wait for the next season.

6. The Laugh Factory Youtube Page

If you love comedy, seek out some of the stand-up acts listed on their page. Some are hilarious and familiar, some hilarious and unfamiliar, some not so hilarious and not so anything. But hit or miss, it's good for some mindless entertainment.

7. Salad UK

A guy that does excellent dubstep videos on his Youtube page. Lots of great mixes of film, Youtube junk, and cartoons for hard-hitting dubstep cream corn action. Pump up the volume.

8. ALL TOGETHER (New Japan/All Japan/NOAH)

A big wrestling show I just got tickets for this Saturday in Tokyo. A big, big show. I can't even explain how excited I am. And all the proceeds go to charity, which is also super bad ass!

9. Fat-Pie.com (David Firth animations)

This my have been around for some time, but I recently just saw some of David Firth's incredibly creepy and weird cartoons floating around on Youtube. His most famous is Salad Fingers, which is funny, creepy, and sometimes sad. I highly recommend any of the Fat-Pie animations because they will probably make you pee.

So that's it for this edition. Mata ne!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Japan Hammer: Writing Manga

I always have been interested in writing but never thought I would write anything that would be visualized. That has changed recently as I've been working on a manga over the past several months called "Wanderer." The premise is this: demonic creatures from the "other side" are sent as "exterminators" to cleanse the earth of humanity to presumably make way for a new race.

To see my vision of a post-apocalyptic world visualized and in Japanese is rather surreal. I'm not doing the art or translations, but being part of this team is great for me.

Does this mean I'm giving up writing traditional stories? No. Just won't be as much I suppose. I have tons and tons of ideas suddenly, stuff that has been lying dormant in my head. Now that I can see my ideas visualized it just seems so much more amazing to create for me.

So the first manga we did together is pretty dark. But the second one I'm writing now is lighter, has more of that "Phil" humor everyone loves so much (I guess).

Anyhow, 2011 I will be spending more and more time on manga. It's really fun! If anyone has any character ideas, send them my way and I'll try to include them in the next manga.

Mata ne!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan Hammer: Japan, Home, Life, Future

Seems like every couple of years I post one of these. "My life has taken a new direction" or "Time to change things." Well, for those who know me, I live in Japan. For those who haven't been under a rock, things have drastically changed here.

I won't go into a lot of details about what I think about the disaster here. People have went on about it and probably better than I ever could. But I lived in Fukushima. Kumi's family is from there. I made some friends that live there.

Sadly, I don't think it will ever be the same. Just like after Katrina, things never seemed to be the same.

I take pride in living in Japan. The people are kind. It's a beautiful country. The culture is respectful and honorable. But even before this disaster happened, I had second thoughts about making it my permanent home. I now know that it will always be my home. Even if I leave here.

I'm not going to make some far-flung statement about how I'm going to reinvent myself or find another career or something along that line. I plan to continue teaching, wherever I am.

I started to write an angry blog about how lots of people have pissed me off with their flippancy and self-centered viewpoints about this disaster. I was going to rant about it, but there's no point. Stupid people will always be stupid. So I don't give a shit what they say.

I'll soon have a wife and therefore will no longer be responsible only for myself. My purpose first and foremost is keep her safe and healthy. If that means ultimately leaving Japan, then that is what we'll do. I won't be happy, but I'll do it.

In the midst of all this chaos, I also lost a friend and brother Billy Tackett. He was always kind to me, a great guy to be around. His love and passion for wrestling and his family shined through. He may not have realized it, but he was in a lot of ways an inspiration to me. I realize life is too short to not appreciate your passions in life. My passions are Kumi, writing, and wrestling. Those will be my focuses.

I feel I can no longer wrestle. My back and neck are shot. I have to get another MRI done tomorrow to see why my body feels like it is shaking. But I want to continue to do something in wrestling. And I will do that.

I've made more of concerted effort in my writing. I'm submitting places and working on old pieces. In my future, that will be a hobby of mine, no matter if I am widely published or not. I take comfort in creating. Whether it's mindless crap or my master opus.

It sounds cliche' and stupid, but it is always good to follow your dreams. My dreams are to be safe, healthy, and happy with Kumi, involved in wrestling and writing.

In Japan or elsewhere. My heart will always be in Japan though. No matter where life takes me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Japan Hammer: Top 5 (Moderately) Fast Food Places in Japan

Traveling to Japan? Looking for fast food? Want to eat something good? And cheap? Well, I got some news for you! You're in luck! I'm going to make my list of the top cheap, good, and fast places to eat in all of Japan. These are my personal opinions, so if you think there are better places, feel free to comment.

5. Sukiya/Yoshinoya/Matsuya

If you want the cheapest, easiest, fastest food in all of Japan, look no further than gyudon (beef bowl) fast food chains. I spent the first 3 months of my first stay in Japan eating pretty much nothing but Sukiya. If you are too nervous to eat other Japanese food (sushi, sashimi, soba, etc.) then gyudon is the way to go. It is probably the cheapest food you will find as well at about 250 yen (about 3 bucks) for some of lower end stuff. It's all good though. One time I got my gyudon in literally 1 minute. It's amazing!

And one of my favorite Japanese idols Suzanne used to do commercials for them. This isn't it, but she does other awesome commercials like this:

4. McDonald's

Yes, it is American. But McDonald's has some pretty distinctive Japanese style burgers as well. And it's pretty cheap. And their french fries still taste spectacular. They have been doing a series now of "Big American" burgers which look like monstrosities. Like the Idaho burger (which I tried) which has some sauce and a piece of hash brown on it.

Or the Miami burger which has salsa and chips on it.

But they did have "Nippon All-Stars" series as well. Which dealt with shrimp burgers and burgers with egg on them. I don't understand the fascination with putting eggs on hamburgers.

Overall, McDonald's in Japan has weird marketing strategies. Like showing sexy models looking like Ronald McDonald.

Or this popular one with children screeching shrilly over Sponge Bob.

They are way too excited. I've never been this excited in my whole life, except that time I got Street Fighter 2 for Christmas.

3. Kappa Sushi/Sushi Ondo/any kaiten sushi place

If you like sushi (I know I do) you can get relatively cheap sushi at kaiten sushi places. These are the ones with the conveyor belt that goes around and around.

I actually prefer these places to the higher end sushi places, because you can eat a lot more for a lot cheaper. The quality isn't the best, but it's the most bang for your buck. Plus if you don't know much about sushi you won't know the difference anyhow.

2. Any "cheap looking" ramen place

Ramen is super cheap and super filling. I can get a bowl of ramen for about 500 yen here and not eat anything for the rest of the day. Here's what REAL ramen looks like.

Plus there are tons and tons of "cup noodle" you can buy in the store which are far superior to the ramen noodles you would eat in college. It buries them. Kills them. Eats them.

1. Saizeriya

This place is relatively fast, pretty good, and you can get a variety of Italian food. It is the choice of most foreigners because you can get decent pizza, pasta, and other pseudo-Italian food. The food by no means matches real Italian food or even the crap we have in America, but it is a good substitute. I eat here any time I want something decent, cheap, and fast. Plus you can drink wine! Woo...

Here are some real Italians ranking what they think of Saizeriya. It's all in Japanese and Italian, but you can see what the food looks like.

Well, that's my list. I'm sure there's tons of things I'm leaving out, but that is the best, cheapest, and fastest food to get in Japan. If you want other stuff, like yakiniku or okonomiyaki, you have to wait a while. And it can get really expensive.

Especially with lots of beer!

Ichiro approves!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Japan Hammer: My Top 5 Anime

Japan Hammer will be my new sub-section of my blog where I discuss Japanese stuff. If there is something Japanese that interests you that you want me to talk about, comment and tell me. I'll scrounge up something.

5. Berserk: I watched this many moons ago and it still sticks with me. I mean the hero's name is Guts. I wish I could be named Guts. One day I want to write something as beautifully brutal as Berserk. Most of the series is Guts mutilating people in a glorious fashion. He has a frenemy in Griffith, who wears armor that looks like a bird. Get it? Like a griffon. Because it's like a bird.

I remember seeing the DVD cover for this. Even the DVD was bloody. I highly recommend it, even though the original series didn't finish apparently. So there is a really bizarre ending. I mean ape shit nutter-butter crazy.

4. Record of Lodoss War: Insanely epic and wickedly generic, it is a Dungeon and Dragon fanboy's wet dream. Sexy elves. Grumpy dwarves. Sexy sorceresses. Crafty thieves. Blood. Magic. Dragons. A generic looking swordsman hero. But for some reason the combination of Japanese aesthetic with Tolkien rip-off material worked. It takes forever to watch the whole thing, but it is worth it. Generic never felt this good.

3. Princess Mononoke: Miyazaki's a bad ass. No one can dispute that. This is my favorite of his movies I've seen though. However, please don't watch the English dubbed version. It is annoying to me for some reason.

The story is pretty original as far as I can tell. A warrior tries to heal his curse after fighting a demon possessed god. There are gods represented by each animal. Wolf god, deer god, boar god, etc. Classic combination of nature=good, technology=evil. But not done in an annoying hippie way. If Al Gore could make an anime, this would be it.

Guns are bad, mmmkay?

2. Fist of the North Star: I guess you are noticing a trend here. I like fantasy stuff. Fist of the North Star is a bit of fantasy but mostly inspired by dystopian futures and Road Warrior style characters. A stark landscape. A lone hero. He must save the wastelands from evil warlords who have used their power to enslave the masses. A man destined for greatness. A man driven by honor. A man who can punch people and their heads explode. Yes.

Here's a montage of people dying in gruesome ways. Mostly with their heads exploding.

1. Akira: "Neo-Tokyo is about to explode." No question. Akira is number one. It is awesome. Weird storyline involving weird crap I can't really explain. A psychotic telekinetic who can blow up tanks and make peoples heads explode (again with the head exploding...geez). Lots of cool motorcycle chases that are cooler than Tron. Cool epic sounding music. A laser bazooka. A big ass teddy bear that has milk leaking out of it. Wow, makes me want to watch it again.

I love Akira's style. Its crazed violence. Its political intrigue. Its bat shit story. Its moments of genuine emotion. To me it's the ultimate anime.

Well those are my top 5 anime in my opinion. If you have suggestions or other thoughts, let me know!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Final Fantasy Memories Part 4: Final Fantasy H8s You (Until FF14)

Final Fantasy 8. Oh, what to say...Honestly, I don't have much to say about this one. I remember I was hotly anticipating the next Final Fantasy after the fantastic FF7. I think I even went to Wal-Mart and got it on the midnight launch, as sad as that sounds. Poor me. I didn't know what I was getting into.

I actually remember playing a demo for FF8 and thinking how cool it would be. There was a cool looking guy with a leather jacket and a gun-blade. Take two cool weapons. A gun and a sword. Combine them togther? Gun-blade! The weapon was so cool, that they gave it to Lightning for FF13. Because 8 sucked and no one remembers Squall using one.

I have to say FF8 was one of the most divisive RPGs of all time. Some people liked the more realistic approach to character design. The romantic story line. The unique Draw system. But I didn't get it. I have the game now for PSP but I am still not very interested in playing it again.

I would say that FF8 and FF14 have probably come the closest to destroying the image of Final Fantasy. FF8 was so universally hated in fact, that in an attempt to satisfy fans, the next game was FF9, a complete throw-back to older and better Final Fantasies.

Square Enix says they are sorry. Here is the awesome FF9.

Some things I remember from FF8 (which goes to show how little I remember from it)

1. Squall is a complete buzz-kill loser. He just whines and complains . I guess Japanese gamers like those kind of protagonists? I don't know. In all fairness, Squall was one of the first emo characters in RPGs.

2. Seifer. Seifer was like Squall except he had a coat. And blond hair. They even had the same weapon. I remember thinking, "oh it's going to be bad ass when I finally get to fight Seifer!" If I recall, the final battle with Seifer is rather anti-climatic. He just goes away or something.

3. The last boss. Queen something or other. The last boss of FF8 is so unmemorable that no one probably knows her name without looking it up on Wikipedia.

4. The other characters. Who were the other characters? Rinoa, who was like Aerith and Tifa mixed together except not as interesting. Some guy with spiked hair and weird shorts. His name started with a Z. Um, some girl with a whip. Quistis I think? Uh...who else. Seriously, the game had no memorable characters.

5. Laguna. Yes, Laguna. In a sort of weird dream sequence deal, you meet Laguna. Who is he? I have no clue. A reporter or something. You get to play as him some. But I forget why. Seriously, the game had no direction whatsoever.

6. You go in outer space at some point. I guess.

You may think "Phil, it sounds like you didn't play this game." I promise I did. I really don't remember anything from it, it was so boring.

So Square sends out a love letter to the fans called FF9. I think because expectations were lowered from FF8, a game that many recall as one of the top 3 Final Fantasies is widely overlooked.

I will talk about the grossly underrated FF9 next go. Please send all FF8 hate mail to me via Facebook.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Final Fantasy Memories Part 3: The Playstation is Born (Mostly due to FF7)

Well, it wasn't Crash Bandicoot. Almost single-handedly selling millions of Playstation units was the RPG of RPGs, Final Fantasy 7. I remember thinking back then, screw getting a Nintendo 64, Mario sucks anyhow. My whole console buying experience was banked on where the Final Fantasy series went. Nintendo let it slip away for the moment. So Playstation it was.

Final Fantasy 7 marked the moment where the series took a controversial turn. It was abandoning its "fantasy" roots and embracing a more steampunk-ish, sci-fi stance. In retrospect, I am not sure why FF7 is widely regarded as the best in the series. It wasn't. Maybe top 3?

It was definitely a great game. Cloud Strife represented a long string of semi-mute, brooding anti-heroes in JRPGs that would come afterward. He wasn't the most sympathetic of main characters, but he had a ton of interesting characters around him that brought out the story. Most prominent being Aerith. Simply being, Aerith's existence in FF7 made Sephiroth, the white haired enigma with the black coat, one of the most hated villains in all of video games. SPOILER! Diving from the heavens, plunging his massively wicked Masamune through Aerith's back and through her stomach, he cemented himself as a calloused, despicable villain. And the scene where he burns the village and disappears into the flames is one of the most chilling, bad ass moments a villain can have. Geez...

Cloud, Sephiroth, Aerith, these are not just iconic Final Fantasy characters, these are iconic video game characters period.

So I would say Final Fantasy 7 brought the series to the mainstream for sure. Is that a good thing? I guess.

I remember being in junior high and hurrying home to play. The four discs were unprecedented in games at that time. Just made it seem even more epic. In retrospect, I vaguely remember finishing the game. I remember it being hard. Sephiroth being one of those transmogrifying multi-tiered bosses that wreck the most casual of players but give a genuine challenge to hardcore Final Fantasy enthusiasts.

I am by no means a Final Fantasy completist. I am happy just finishing the game. FF7 was well known for epic summons such as Knights of the Round and the hard-as-balls Weapons who caused many a headache for my friends who were more into that kind of thing.

Big ass swords, Mako reactors, tragic characters, planet destroying summons, weird dream sequences, a talking cat robot that rode on top of a big stuffed animal that looked like a deformed polar bear. This game had it all.

It was so popular in fact that it bred spin-off titles. The critically panned Dirge of the Cerberus featured vampiric gunslinger Vincent Valentine in a sort of 3rd person action game. It wasn't very good from what I remember. A better 3rd person action game came later in the form of Crisis Core, which in involved super-duper minor character Zack, who is barely in the original FF7 for 2 minutes. But the big super duper Buster Sword came from him and you get to swing the bastard around so that is kind of cool.

Since living in Japan, I have found that the most available game related Final Fantasy merchandise seems to be from FF7. I have several FF7 post cards and even a Barrett key chain (yeah, it is massive as well). The Japanese love FF7 that's for sure.

What would follow were two more Final Fantasy titles for the Playstation. The misunderstood and possibly better than I remembered FF8 and the dark horse of the series even though it is awesome, FF9. I'll cover them next time. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Bunch of Books in a Bunch of Days-Book 1: Snuff by Chuck Palahnuik

WARNING: If you don't want to read about anything that might offend you, then go watch cat videos on Youtube or update your Facebook page or go play with your pet bird or something.

Did you leave yet? Oh, you're still here. Poor you.

I am doing this new thing where I am trying to read a bunch of books I have been hoarding. I have not read these books primarily because:

a. I am lazy
b. I am too busy doing other shit such as writing my own stuff for my own amusement and trying to produce a manga
c. I play too many video games

So in an effort to stop myself from showing up on the TV show "Hoarders" I have concocted a plan to rid myself of these bothersome books. Fahrenheit 451 style. I'm going to burn them.

But first I guess I'll read them. And memorize them. In case in a future lifetime, some poor soul wants to hear the story of Cassie Wright, who intends to break the record of the world's largest gang bang. "Well, sonny, sit down here by the fire and I will tell you this wondrous tale..."

The first book on my randomly chosen list is a book I just bought a week ago at the local Book Off (discount book chain in Japan). It was only 300 yen, so it was quite a buy! I am a pretty big fan of the author, Chuck Palahnuik, best known for Fight Club and Choke, both of which were made into movies of varying popularity. I have yet to read a book of his I didn't like, so I picked it up.

Snuff. The title itself kind of draws me into the old world of standing next to the dirty curtain of my local video store, peaking through to see if I could catch a glimpse of "something nasty." You know the place. And you know you looked. Maybe you even went in there. You did? Wow, gross. Well, with a world so slathered with death and porn, it is surprising more books like this haven't been written. And this book is literally about death and porn.

I have decided to not really review the books I am reading but just list some stuff that I thought was interesting or cool that happened. So there are mild spoilers ahead.

1. Lots of fake tan
2. Buffet of greasy snacks also caked in fake tan fingerprints
3. Various anecdotes about people throughout history that killed themselves or died in pursuit of some ideal version of themselves. The most interesting was a tale about Messalina, some Roman empress who moonlit as a whore just because she was a whore.
4. Marilyn Monroe liked to use the name Zelda Zonk to try to appear normal. Huh?
5. About everything you could imagine being said about graphic sex is mentioned. "But what about...?" Yes, that is mentioned too. "Even...?" Yep.
6. The phrase "pink ghost."
7. Ever wonder what porn actors and actresses think about? Now is your chance, I guess.

In closing, this normally isn't subject matter I am so much interested in, but Palahniuk weaves together a story that makes you care about even the scummiest of the scum.

I don't see this one getting green-lit anytime soon. A good, fast read. Enjoyed it.

The end.

Monday, January 31, 2011

WWE Royal Rumble 2011 Review

Well, that was an interesting PPV. Being that I haven't been in the States for a while and watched WWE much, this was the first PPV I have seen in quite some time. It seems people are almost universally shitting on it, but I think it had some telling moments. I'll highlight them below:

1. CM Punk is over as shit: If there was any doubt that CM Punk couldn't hang with the "big boys" on Raw, he has proven himself time and time again as a go-to guy, both on the stick and in the ring. His standout performance in last year's Rumble (where he cut promos in between eliminating people until the Almighty Hunter squashed him) carried over to this year, with his leadership of the Nexus. Of the two heel stables floating around now, I'd say Nexus stands head and shoulders over the Corre. The Nexus was made to look strong (until Super Cena came out) and I think CM Punk's 7 eliminations are testament to that. And Batista Jr. (Mason Ryan) is someone they are obviously very fond of.

2. The Miz is going to Wrestlemania: Even though there are a handful of PPVs before Wrestlemania, there isn't any doubt that Miz will not make it to Wrestlemania without the WWE Championship. His chicken-shit, smarmy, skin by the teeth heel character may lack a distinct edge or menace, but he gets the job done. His ingenious elimination of Cena (when he wasn't even in the Rumble) had me thinking that Miz doesn't have to be a strong heel champion. He's smart. So I'm liking Miz's continued push so far.

3. Diesel and Booker T: Who'd thunk it? A "Let's Go Diesel" chant? Really? When Kevin Nash once talked about Gran Torino, and that Clint Eastwood was a badass even though he is 80, I didn't think the comparison to be possible with Nash. In brief doses, he's a good character. I much prefer no-nonsense Kevin Nash to goofy, worked-shoot/shoot-work Kevin Nash. Booker T's appearance also was pretty awesome. These kind of things is why I like WWE. They can make appearances feel special. Whereas another promotion (cough TNA cough) makes appearances seem insignificant or "par for the course." I'm not always pro-WWE, but I think they did these appearances right.

4. Alberto Del Rio winning: Has a heel ever won the Royal Rumble? Huh? I can't think of a time for sure. The celebration was hilarious with Ricardo Rodriguez going ape-shit like a Hispanic JR trumpeting a Stone Cold win. And the brief moment of Santino possibly eliminating him had me marking out a bit. Of course Santino main eventing Wrestlemania would be incredibly stupid, but it was a fun tease anyway. Del Rio's win was a solid choice. They didn't go with a face for a happy ending and they didn't go with an established act to make sure Wrestlemania had a sure-fire blockbuster match. Right now I'm seeing Miz vs. Cena and Del Rio vs. Edge. Seems like decent, mostly fresh match-ups.

5. Disappointments not so disappointing: I had hoped for more surprise entrances such as Triple H, Christian, Evan Bourne or others, but no such luck. Honestly, I don't miss Triple H. He's a good worker and all, but he's the same as Cena and Orton. A babyface wrecking machine that kills any momentum a heel has. The Royal Rumble was an Empire Strikes Back-esque show this year. Del Rio, a heel, won the Rumble. Miz and Punk screwed over Cena and Orton respectfully. The heels WWE has right now are fresh, new, and interesting. The babyfaces are lacking now. Mysterio doesn't seem as over, Undertaker is gone for now, Cena is stale, Orton is over one week and not over the next. Edge is a mediocre babyface, but makes it work I suppose. They need lots of fresh babyface acts. Heels they have covered.

So even though the Rumble itself wasn't the best, I did like the surprises, some of the spots (Morrison's "Parkour" jump stands out) and the "internet mark out" moments with Punk clashing with Daniel Bryan, and the exchanges between Bryan and Regal. Soooo...I was glad to watch it. The Rumble always entertains me as it was always one of my favorite events.

My favorite was when Heenan went bonkers on commentary when Ric Flair won the WWF title in '91, I think. That, as Miz says, was awesome.

That's it for now! Stay tuned for more reviews of Japanese shows soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Projects for 2011

This is stuff I'm working on. Enjoy!

1. Unnamed Manga Project: Doing this with Josh Neelands. So far I'm enjoying the process, but it's really intensive. Lots of cool stuff in store for this one I think!

2. Love Letter Monkey Campaign: My grassroots mission. This is just me showing pictures of my Love Letter Moneky cast to people. Spreading around the goofiness. Maybe I'll make something of it more later.

3. Devil Owl Warlord Yazuki: A RPG I'm making with RPG Maker VX. Basically involves a devil owl warlord that travels from town to town, destroying everything. That's about it.

4. The Manflesh Trilogy: The continuation from my National Novel Writing Month story, "Drink the Wyvern." I will write the sequel, "Eat the Emperors" later in the year. More fantastical stupidity from Manflesh and friends.

5. Boxing: I'm going to start boxing. Yeah. Just feel like doing it.

6. Japanese study: I'm going to intensify my Japanese study. One way or another, I'm going to improve this year!

7. Eat Shit Die: A memoir that describes my life. Eat, my journey in eating food and my experience with processing it. Shit, which describes various stupid shit I've done. And Die, involving my daily struggle with hypochondria and visions that I have.

That's what I have going on! Keep an eye out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Final Fantasy Memories Part 2: Super Nintendo Fantasies Rock my Face Off

This is a continuation of my FF memories, where I'll talk about FF 4 and FF 6 (known on their Super Nintendo incarnations as FF 2 and FF 3). These titles would forever confuse Western gamers and throw them for a loop as to what the blue hell to call them. They are almost universally known by their Japanese titles since they've been re-released several times.

Anyhow, if you haven't read my blog about FF 1, go read it.

SPOILERS ahead (but surely you've played all these, I hope)

Final Fantasy 4: Epic doesn't describe this one enough. I remember watching my friend Danny play this game and thinking "Wow, this shit is awesome." There is a dark knight, a dragoon, a ninja, a summoner, all sorts of crazy shit. They're fighting on the moon and fighting underground. People are dying. Getting turned to stone.

This FF was awesome simply for the fact that you had characters and not some faceless "warrior." Cecil was a rather dynamic main character as well. A dark knight forced to kill to attain the crystals. Yet he was remorseful for his actions. Just to have a dark knight as your main character was so different for that time. Heroes were always knights in shining armor or young plucky kids with goofy hats. But Cecil was a dark-plated knight with dark powers. Killing Mysidians. Hooking up with the white mage.

The accompanying cast was pretty badass as well. With one exception...

You had Kain, the dragoon, who wielded a spear and jumped 50 feet in the air and would land on shit like "Pow!" Kain was a rather unique character as well, because he actually turns evil for a short time and leaves your group. Also he had the hots for the white mage Rosa, and that pissed him off that Cecil had her. What a jealous prick.

Then Rosa, the white mage everyone loved. She's a typical FF heroine: compassionate and earnest. Always looking out for everyone. Except Kain. He was totally gross to her. I guess.

Others include Rydia, the child summoner who becomes the badass teenage summoner with green hair, Tellah, the old fart who casts Meteo and kills himself, Edge, the quiet ninja prince guy, Yang who had a little ponytail and could kick people, the twins Palom and Porom, who were annoying but could wreak havoc with their spells, and Fu So Ya, the moon wizard who looked really old.

And that was it.

Oh, wait. Sorry. There was that "spoony bard" Edward. Arguably one of the shittiest characters in all of FF. He played a harp and his special ability was that he could hide. Not cast a spell, not wreck someone with his sword, but fucking hide. Shitty, shitty, shitty.

Nonetheless, the game rocked. My love for FF only increased ten-fold. But it was about to increase 10,000-fold.

Final Fantasy 6: The best in the series, in my opinion. The ensemble cast. The great story. The hated villain Kefka. Just an excellent game all around. It also introduce a steam-punkish sort of world, where magic powered machines.

The magic system was pretty interesting as well. You would get these creatures called Espers that you would attach to your character. Then he'd learn spells based off what Esper he had. So if you had Shiva, the character would learn like Blizzard and shit like that. Just a really cool concept I think.

The large cast made for lots of lots of storyline. Some of the storyline was much better than others. Sabin and Edgar's story, the royal brothers was very good. Shadow the ninja's back story was intriguing to watch unravel through dreams. Terra, the amnesiac mage, who grew more and more powerful. Locke, the treasure hunter that would not let anyone die due to a promise he kept to his dead girlfriend. Just so much cool stuff to discuss.

But the star of the whole game has to be Kefka. The cackling, clown mage who was maniacal and diabolic. He seemed almost patterned after the Joker, in that he was utterly insane but also rather calculating with his actions. The part where he says "I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate, etc." just exhibits how nuts he was. And then he gets a giant tower called the Eye of Judgment later in the game and just starts killing innocent people. He poisons an entire castle and even kills the Emperor Geshtalt that he serves. He's a complete nutjob, but that's what makes him so memorable. He's at times vulnerable and cowardly and at times vicious and frightening. One of top 3 FF villains in all the series I think.

The game is everything a FF should be. Great story. Great characters. Good game play. Any easy to decipher magic system. Lots and lots of exploring. Many side quests. Just an all around perfect RPG. If there is a FF 15, I hope it resembles FF 6 the most. Fans want more games like this. Not convoluted philosophical babble and girlish/goofy and/or brooding/boring heroes.

Next I'll talk about the game that made the Playstation and honestly put Square on the map globally. Final Fantasy 7, the most beloved of all the series. And for good reason.

Until next time, "Har har har!" (Kefka's laugh)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Final Fantasy Memories Part 1: My Final Fantasy 1 S&M Experience

Are we finally coming to a time where there won't be a final Final Fantasy? Please...no.

I've read rumors that Final Fantasy 15 won't be made. That makes me incredibly sad. It would be the end of a great dynasty of games. Games I grew up with. That guided my life (as dumb as that sounds). I connect certain moments of my life when I played each Final Fantasy game (referred to FF from here on). Even though a fair share of the plots were convoluted messes about pseudo-religious posturing and angst-ridden existentialism (Why are we here? What are we doing? Where are we going?) they connected on real levels. I'm going to talk about each Final Fantasy, where I was in my life, what I was doing, and why I was doing it. Yes, this will be a FF style review of FF.

I'll start from the beginning and end with the last one I've played. I'll make this a multi-part blog. I'm only also including the main series (no FF Tactics or the goofy FF: Mystic Quest). Enjoy my trip down memory lane...and into the future! I'll even talk about what I would like to see in the next FF. Hopefully FF 15!

Final Fantasy 1 (The Beginning): This is the one that started it all. The grand-daddy. Almost single-handed establishing a genre of RPGs. The warrior, the thief, the monk, the white mage, the black mage, the red mage. Now iconic figures for any fan of FF.

I remember playing this on the NES (Nintendo) when I was pretty young. I remember getting extremely pissed and having a real hard time getting passed the Vampire in the Earth Cave. How frustrating and utterly annoying the constant random attacks were. The ritual upgrading of weaponry and spells and endless level-grinding (which my friends always say I don't do, but I do). The...

Wait a minute. These are supposed to be positive memories.

Honestly, FF1 pissed me off more than made me enjoy it. But the challenge and uniqueness of the game play (at the time) made me love it. Even though two Ogre Mages raped my party, or a gang of Wraiths blinded everyone, or Tiamat busted my ass in ten seconds, I still couldn't help but love it. I had a sado-masochistic relationship with that game.

But I loved it. And it only increased my interest in the genre and games in general. You could say FF destroyed my youth. Or preserved it. Either way.

I remember my party of warrior, monk, white mage, black mage. The most basic party you could get. Sometimes I'd mix it up a bit and throw in a red mage or a thief, but I'd usually get utterly annihilated then, instead of only a little annihilated.

The warrior was the staple. I don't know of anyone who didn't use at least one warrior in their party. If they didn't, they were dumb.

The thief was ok. He'd later turn into the badass ninja, but you'd spend so much time bringing your thief back to life and looking at his stupid dead ass on your menu screen, they'd you want to rip his blue hair out.

The monk was arguably the most powerful character in the game. The nunchucks sucked balls, but if he started doing like 25 hits with his fist, he'd flatten anything.

The red mage was the "jack of all trades." Of course that means he's the "master of none." A really hard class to use, but I like using him because he had a fancy red hat with a white feather. I like hats.

The white mage which was maybe a woman, but no one knew for sure, was also a staple. If you didn't have a white mage, good luck. Undead would hump your dead corpse and you'd be limping around with poison blinding your screen and deafening your ears with it's weird, teeth-grinding sound. Take a white mage. You'll be happy you did. I wish I could have a white mage in my real life. I'd say "Hey, white mage, I have diarrhea, help me out." Bling bling! I'm healed. Pepto can suck it.

The black mage was the mysterious hooded, Chinese hat wearing, no face having offensive magic power house. Of course he sucked monkey nuts at the beginning. But when you got to higher levels, you could cast Death and Flare and Explode and awesome spells like that. Anyone that can cast a spell called Flare is my friend.

So I have fond memories of these faceless characters who had no back story or even talked. But they led me to love RPGs, making me enthralled with dragons, knights, and all that happy shit.

So FF1 will always hold a place in my heart, just like the time I got punched in the face. I remember it well, but I don't know if I want to experience it again.

That's it for now.

Next time, the Super Nintendo FFs! FF 4 (FF 2 in America) and FF 6 (FF 3 in America). Stupid confusing shit.

This really led to my love of FFs that only intensified as these are some of the best RPGs, or games, ever made.

Stay tuned for next time! Until then, have Finally Fantastic day!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Big 3-0

Well, I'm 30. It feels weird to say that, since it seems like just yesterday I was turning 21 or 18 or 12 or something. So I'm 30. So what does that mean? Not a whole hell of a lot I guess.

My contract is ending soon here in Japan and once again (for like the 100th time) I'm at a crossroads. I'm engaged to be married, but still haven't set a date, so that gives my life a more definite direction. If I'm getting married that means I have to start working better jobs, right? Start getting a house, right? Start having kids, right? Right? What am I supposed to be doing? Is there a guideline? A rule book? What do I do? Huh?

Honestly, I don't know. And that's the beauty of it. I don't know at all. But as long as Kumi is with me, I'll be happy. We may come back to America. We may stay in Japan. We may go somewhere else. I don't know. Anywhere is fine with me.

It's strange how life can change so quickly. Just instantly things you are familiar with or take for granted can change. I realized that in 2010 when I had lots and lots of health issues (or fabricated ones). I live everyday like it's my last now. I enjoy life. I cherish it. I do everything I can to be happy. That's what sustains me.

So what will my 30s bring me that my 20s couldn't? If I could describe my 20s, it would be like this:

a. Very unhealthy. Smoked everyday, drank to excess, ate whatever I wanted.
b. Reckless. I did lots of reckless things. Especially with my body. I wasn't always careful and didn't always protect myself when I was wrestling. And I'm paying the price now.
c. Had absolutely no direction. My life just seemed to be wandering from one thing to the next with no clear definition at all. If I'm getting married soon, there can be no more of that (unless Kumi's cool with it).

So with a new year and a new age comes new aspirations. I've done many blogs like this before where I talk about how I'm going to write more or do more things in wrestling. Or I'm going to get some dream job or travel to some country. But I'm not going to do that anymore. I'm not going to talk about what I'm going to do.

I'll just do it.

30s. Here I am. Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NJPW Presents...Wrestle Kingdom V

Just got back from Wrestle Kingdom V at the Tokyo Dome. That's the biggest show I think I've been to live and the best show. There was some clunkers, but I'll get to those in a minute. Just to be in the Tokyo Dome for the big January 4th show was surreal. The history. The legacy. The Japanese version of Wrestlemania almost. Even then, the show wasn't completely sold out. I would say it was close though.

So, I'll detail the matches and give my thoughts on the crowd's reactions, etc.

Dark Matches:

1. Jado, Gedo, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Wataru Inoue, Tiger Mask, Tama Tonga, and Tomoaki Honma

The heel team featured long time Japan staples Jado and Gedo. They've seriously been around forever. It was good to see Tiger Mask IV again live as I saw him at Korakuen Hall last year. Tama Tonga acts, looks, and even does the same moves as Jimmy Snuka. Must be related. The match was a typical 8 Man match, nothing stood out particularly. Inoue pinned Gedo after a stiff looking spear. This was the opening match, so the crowd was excited to see it.

2. Kenny Omega and Taichi vs. Koji Kanemoto and Ryusuke Taguchi

This match I was interested in mainly because of Kenny Omega, who is pretty hilarious with his Street Fighter moves. I was a bit disappointed he didn't do any of them though. He has a lot of talent, and is also one half of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champions with Kota Ibushi (who is absolutely incredible, more on him later). The match also featured Ryusuke Taguchi, who regularly teams with IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Prince Devitt as Apollo 55. So this was a match to get the guys on the card I guess. Lots of good action, some high spots to get the crowd pumped and then Taguchi pinned Taichi with a roll-up. Kanemoto does a Rick Rude dance a bunch of times. I guess he is supposed to be ravishing or something...

MAIN CARD! I was pumped. They had a countdown clock and everything.

1. Muscle Orchestra (Strongman and Manabu Nakanishi) vs. Beer Money (James Storm and Robert Roode) vs. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions Bad Intentions (Carl "Machinegun" Anderson and Giant Bernard)

Most people know Giant Bernard as A-Train from WWE, but he's a beast in Japan. The Strongman guy looks jacked to the gills, seriously. He gorilla pressed Bernard. Holy shit...Beer Money heeled to the crowd and got some heat, the first of the night it seems. Japanese crowds don't seem to like to boo people much I guess. Overall, a decent match. All the teams hit their finishers and then Anderson hit Roode with an Ace Crusher and pinned him. Pretty short and sweet match. By the way, Muscle Orchestra has to be the funniest name ever for a tag team.

2. CMLL Showcase: La Sombra and Mascara Dorada vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Hector Garza

I was excited to see Liger live. I remember watching him wrestle Brian Pillman in WCW. Memories...Anyway, pretty good match with some nice high spots. Garza spends some time ripping his tear away ring gear off. I guess that gets the girls to squeal in Mexico. In Japan, not so much. Lots of flipping and flying and surprisingly La Sombra pins Liger after a corkscrew plancha of sorts. What? I guess they are setting up La Sombra for a title shot against Liger, who was carrying some CMLL gold. The crowd seemed excited to see Liger as well, as I guess he is spending time in Mexico these days more.

3. Deep Sleep to Lose (Sleeper Match): Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Takashi Iizuka

Iizuka is fucking insane, that's all I have to say. He's a perfect crazy heel who actually got some mega heat because I guess they've been doing this storyline with Tenzan's neck is jacked up. Yet Iizuka keeps jumping Tenzan from behind and cranking the shit out of his neck. So, my friends, this is how a storyline works.

a. Tenzan has a jacked neck
b. Iizuka is bat shit crazy and keeps cranking Tenzan's neck
c. Tenzan vows vengeance, Iizuka vows to continue to be bat shit crazy

Iizuka likes to tear the clothes off one of the ring announcers I guess, because he just grabbed this poor guy and ripped his shirt off. This was a great match from a storytelling standpoint. I wish more matches were like this. Iizuka got mega heat just from using a sleeper hold. A sleeper hold. It goes to show you don't have to kill yourself to have a good match. The crowd went nuts everytime Iizuka locked in the sleeper. But then Tenzan fought back, kicked Iizuka's ass and locked on the Anaconda Vice (his move that CM Punk borrowed later). Iizuka looks not as crazy when he's unconscious.

Note: Iizuka is over like rover. Great, simple characters still work. Tenzan played the sympathetic babyface perfectly.

4. TNA vs. NJPW Hardcore Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Toru Yano

RVD's music really fucking sucks live. It's completely stupid. It says something like Van Assassinator or something. Seriously, the lyrics are awful. The crowd seemed happy to see RVD, but Yano kicked his ass most of the match. It reminded me of one of the better WWF Attitude Era hardcore matches. Just kind of harmless, goofy hardcore action. Yano stuck a mop in RVD's face and also smashed him with some kind of rice paper umbrella. That was fun, I guess. Yano even mocked RVD's "Rob-Van-Dam" thing, which the crowd thought was funny.

Decent match for what it was. RVD wins with a Five Star Frog Splash with a chair lying on Yano's chest. Crunch.

Note: Yano was more over than RVD. And he seems like a Japanese Sandman sort of, except not as drunk and better. He was drinking sake from a bottle, that's why.

5. No Justice, No Life: Yuji Nagata vs. Minoru Suzuki

I was super excited for this match. Two veterans who can go in the ring and look cool doing it. These two are the way veterans should be booked. TNA and WWE should take notice. Yet Nagata and Suzuki love striking the shit out of each other. I also noticed that Bryan Danielson seems to pattern the way he throws his kick flurries from Nagata. Just a little note.

Nagata cranked the dog monkey shit out of Suzuki's arm for a good three minutes. They slapped and kicked each other a bunch of times, and Suzuki made crazy faces. Highly entertaining match with Nagata dumping Suzuki on his head three times with Backdrop Drivers before getting the pin.

Note: Best match of the night thus far. Edges out Tenzan/Iizuka barely.

6. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion
Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi

This match was incredible. I can't really do it justice by talking about it, but it was really awesome. Kota Ibushi is insane. He does high spots right. The crowd was sure he was going to win but Prince Devitt hit him with an Avalanche Falcon Arrow that knocked him loopy and that was it. Devitt retains. Not sure why Devitt hasn't been offered a contract from WWE or TNA, because he has a good look and is as good a wrestler as any of the workhorses on either roster. Maybe he likes it in Japan, which is good for him.

Note: Match of the Night for sure. Nothing topped this one. Reminds me of really good Ring of Honor main events. Too smallish guys, kicking ass and doing cool spots without overdoing it.

7. NJPW vs. NOAH I: Hiroki Goto and Kazuchika Okada (NJPW) vs. Takashi Sugiura and Yoshihiro Takayama (NOAH)

The NOAH team consists of one half of the GHC Tag Champions Takayama and the GHC Heavyweight Champion Sugiura. I just saw these guys a couple of weeks ago. Takayama is huge for a Japanese guy, has a long, creepy face, and long bleached blond hair. He stands out, that's for sure. Goto and Okada both got some good strikes in, but the power of Sugiura and Takayama was too much. They brutalized poor Okada at one point, just kicking him and kneeing him over and over.

Takayama finished off Okada with one of the highest German Suplexes I've ever seen. Right on his head!

8. TNA Heavyweight Championship match: Jeff Hardy vs. Tetsuya Naito

Wow. Quite a let down, I have to say. Hardy looked stoned and gassed the whole match. No telling with him. He botched a pretty basic step over, roll through type spot, and ended up with his ass in the air. The crowd laughed. If you know anything about Japanese wrestling, the crowd laughing at a botch is the equivalent of saying "you fucked up." Not good. Hardy's entrance looked cool anyway.

I wanted to like this match, but no one bought Naito (one half of No Limit) as a threat to Hardy and it just seemed to be there. The crowd actually seemed deflated that it was over so quickly with no drama at all. Hardy hits the Twist of Fate and the Swanton. Pin me, pay me. Someone behind me even said "Ehh?" The crowd did seem pumped to see Hardy live though. Just a letdown after having so many great matches beforehand.

Note: Hardy actually said in a pre-taped promo that he will "have the best match the Tokyo Dome has ever seen." Uh, yeah...

EDIT: I found out apparently Hardy jumped in a fire at some Christmas party and that could explain why his performance seemed off. I guess.

9. NJPW vs. NOAH II: Shinsuke Nakamura (NJPW) vs. Go Shiozaki (NOAH)

Great match and featured one of my favorite Japanese wrestlers, Shinsuke Nakamura. Not really sure why I like him, he just comes off as a legit bad ass. He either has a look on his face like he doesn't give a shit or like he's about to crush your face. He was ranked Number 2 one year for the PWI500 as well, so that says something about him. Shiozaki is no slouch either though. He hit a sick chop at one point that the crowd went "Ohhh!" (which is like saying "holy shit") I mean, he fucking decked him.

Great all around match with some good strikes, good submissions, and Nakamura ending the match with his flying knee attack, Boma Ye. The best way to describe it is he just springs forward suddenly and knees the shit out of Shiozaki's face.

10. The Absolute Exhaust (Huh?): Togi Makabe vs. Masato Tanaka

I love watching Masato Tanaka live. He totally heeled it up on Makabe, who is like some kind of Superstar character who carries a big JYD chain with him. Or is it a Bruiser Brody chain? Not sure. Anyway, this match had some hard hitting action. Tanaka would beat on Makabe, then he would paintbrush his head or just kind of nudge him with his toe. Good stuff. I'm not for sure what the finish was, but I think Makabe just knocked Tanaka upside his head and that was it. I love Japanese matches. They drop each other through tables for 15 minutes and then one guy just hits the other really hard in the head, and it's over.

Note: I got to see the Rolling Elbow. Tanaka knocked Makabe's teeth loose I think. Tanaka also looks leaner and more ripped than he did during his ECW days.

The MAIN EVENT: IWGP Heavyweight Championship match:
Satoshi Kojima vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

They set up a good storyline for this one too. No, Kojima didn't sleep with Tanahashi's girlfriend. Nor did Tanahashi kill Kojima's pet parrot or some other stupid shit. They built up Kojima's lariat as a move that had put away so many other wrestlers. They showed footage of him clipping Makabe, then making Nakamura cut a flip, just Kojima decimating people with his lariat. So what does Tanahashi do? He targets Kojima's lariat arm. Simple, yet effective. Kojima does hit the lariat, but his arm is so battered from Tanahashi working it over, that the lariat is weaker, thus Tanahashi ain't putting that shit over. Simple, easy, effective. Tanahasi hits three or four frog splashes throughout the match, but finally gets the right one in, and picks up his FIFTH IWGP Heavweight Championship reign. Wow, really? He looks too young to have won it 5 times.

Oh wait, John Cena has won the WWE Championship like 9 times. Nevermind.

This show made me mostly forget about the crap America peddles nowadays and made me realize that wrestling can be simple and effective and still be over. opponent. Whoever was booking this event needs to go work for TNA or WWE. The gimmick matches all made sense. The storylines weren't convoluted. Every match had a clean winner. Wow. I'm amazed.

Well, this ends my horribly long review of the show. If you made it this far, you are truly a wrestling otaku.

Best Match: Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi
Biggest Pop: Tanahashi winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Most Heat: Iizuka applying the sleeper hold (yes, a sleeper hold)

Overall, glad I went! Awesome show!